Manchester Airport is the champion of European football flights in the North

European football returns this month and fans from across the North will be travelling all over the continent, hoping to cheer their teams  out of the group stages of the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League.

Meanwhile, the region is set to welcome tens of thousands of visiting supporters from Europe and beyond travelling to the region to see the region’s teams playing at home – and take in some of the attractions the North has to offer.

This year Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Newcastle and Aston Villa fans will all come through the northern hub as they hope to see their teams triumph.

From Paris to Istanbul, hundreds of thousands of fans will follow their teams to all corners of Europe and Manchester Airport – the UK’s global gateway in the North – is ready to get them where they want to go.

Manchester Airport is proud to serve the people of the North and had hosted extra flights on one of its busiest days of the year flying Manchester City fans to Istanbul to see their team win the Champions League in May. 

Additional flights will be chartered for big games – including several for Manchester United’s exciting opening European fixture in Munich – to make sure all the fans that get tickets to the games or just want to be in the host cities for them can get there.

Nick Brooks-Sykes, Director of Tourism at Marketing Manchester, said:

“Football is very much a part of Greater Manchester’s DNA and a key driver for the visitor economy. The game brings thousands of visitors to the city-region each year and we’re very lucky to not only have two of the best football teams in the world, but also world-class football-focused attractions such as the National Football Museum, that further strengthen our reputation as the spiritual home of UK football.

“When there is a home match almost all leisure businesses in the city-region benefit – hotel occupancy rates soar, restaurants and bars fill up, and the city’s shops and retailers get a welcome boost in footfall. But the game’s value goes far beyond matchday benefits; both United and City are global brands that play significant role in putting our region out there on the world stage. That level of awareness is priceless and has a rippling effect on decisions to choose Greater Manchester for foreign investment, trade, or as a place to live, work or study.”

Here’s how fans of each team can fly out to every game from Manchester:

Champions League

Defending champions Man City have a favourable draw in Group G alongside German side RB Leipzig, Serbian Champions Red Star Belgrade and Swiss outfit Young Boys. Last season Manchester Airport lit its iconic honeycomb display in Terminal 2 sky blue to bid City good luck as they flew out and then welcomed the side back in style as they arrived with the coveted trophy.

Leipzig is in the Saxony area of eastern Germany and you can get there from Manchester in as little as four hours with a range of airlines including Lufthansa, Austrian and Ryanair, usually with a single change in Munich or Vienna.

Belgrade is in Serbia and served by the Nikola Tesla airport. You can get there in around five hours from Manchester with airlines including Ryanair, Wizz Air, KLM and Lufthansa, usually with a single change.

Young Boys play their home games at the Wankdorf Stadium in the Swiss City of Bern. You can fly there from Manchester via Palma in Mallorca with airlines including Ryanair, Helvetic and Jet2

Manchester United have a tougher group, facing German giants Bayern Munich (whose Allianz Arena home ground is pictured below), Danish side Copenhagen FC and Turkish team Galatasaray in Group A. And although the fixtures could be tricky, fans’ journeys won’t be with all the host cities served by direct flights from Manchester.

Munich is in the Bavarian region of Germany, famed for Oktoberfest and its numerous museums. You can fly direct to Munich from Manchester with easyJet or Lufthansa in as little as two hours.

FC Copenhagen play in the Danish capital city and you can fly there direct from Manchester with easyJet or Ryanair in two hours.

Galatasaray are based in the European side of Istanbul, the Turkish city that spans both Europe and Asia. You can fly direct to either of two airports serving Istanbul from Manchester with a range of airlines including easyJet, Pegasus, Ryanair and Turkish Airlines in about four hours.

Newcastle are in the Champions League for the first time since the 2003-4 season so their supporters will be keen to follow them on their travels to make up for lost time. Their travels in Group F will be straightforward if they fly from Manchester with Paris St Germain, Dortmund and AC Milan all in cities served by direct flights.

You can fly direct to either of two airports serving Paris from Manchester with a range of airlines in as little as an hour and a half.  

Dortmund is part of a region of Germany where several cities - including Dortmund, Dusseldorf, Gelsenkirchen, Bochum, Essen and Duisburg - have merged to become one of Europe’s largest continuous urban areas. The area is served by several different areas but the most convenient is Dusseldorf, which you can fly directly to from Manchester with Eurowings in about two hours.

Italy’s fashion capital Milan is served by direct flights from Manchester through Ryanair that can take as little as two hours and 15 minutes.

Europa League

Liverpool are playing their football in the Europa League this season after a late patch of good form last season wasn’t quite enough to get them into the Champions League. Manchester Airport is the biggest airport serving Merseyside and after more than 2million people from the area flew out of the airport in 2022, it’s likely many fans will start their journey from Manchester.

Susan Finnegan, Acting Head of Visitor Economy for Marketing Liverpool said:

"European football is a key factor to Liverpool City Region's visitor economy, bringing in thousands of visitors to the region each year.

“With Liverpool taking part in the Europa League this season, we expect to welcome lots of football fans to the city through Manchester Airport, opening up the region to new visitors to experience not only world-class football but Liverpool's world-famous hospitality and visitor offer."

Liverpool have drawn Austrian side LASK (which stands for Linzer Athletik-Sport-Klub), Belgian outfit Royale Union Saint-Gilloise (often just known as Union) and Toulouse in France.

LASK are based in the Austrian city of Linz and you can fly there from Manchester via Frankfurt with Lufthansa in only four hours.

Union play their home games in the Saint Gilles area of Belgian capital of Brussels (pictured above). Brussels is one of the shortest direct flights from Manchester – taking just an hour and 20 minutes. The trip is available with a range of airlines including Ryanair and Aer Lingus.

You can get to Toulouse, which is famed for its sausages, from Manchester via either Amsterdam or Brussels with either KLM or Brussels Air – even with the stop your journey will only take a little over four hours.

Europa Conference

One of the Premier League’s surprise packages last season, Aston Villa managed to qualify for the Europa League. Fans are well served by both Manchester Airport and sister airport East Midlands Airport.

Villa drew Dutch side AZ Alkmaar, Polish team Legia Warsaw and HSK Zrinjski (commonly referred to as HSK) from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The nearest airport to Alkmaar in the Netherlands is Schipol, around 30 miles away in the capital Amsterdam. It’s a quick, direct flight from Manchester with a range of airlines including easyJet and Ryanair that lasts only an hour and a half.

Warsaw in Poland is served by Lufthansa, Ryanair, Swiss and KLM and you can get there in about five hours with a stop in Munich or Amsterdam, depending who you fly with.

Zrinjski are based in Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Although Mostar does have a small airport many travellers will prefer to fly to Sarajevo which is served by Lufthansa from Manchester with a stop in Frankfurt and then take the train.